JERUSALEM (Nov. 28)
Shoppers in the downtown Jerusalem department store, Hamashbir, were treated to an unusual spectacle last week, part of a campaign to end violence against women.
In the ground floor section where discounted men’s shirts are usually displayed, a woman with a black eye and her arm in a sling was dressed in full bridal regalia.
The “battered bride” was telling bemused onlookers that despite the “injuries” she had sustained at the hands of her fiance, she loved him and believed marriage would solve everything.
“And love is the most important thing, isn’t it?” she repeatedly cajoled the curious spectators.
They shook their heads, sadly, in disagreement.
The “bride” was an actress from a group called Kafka’s Orphans. She performed the dramatic skit throughout the afternoon Nov. 25, as part of a day marked internationally to protest violence against women.
The scene, sponsored in part by the city’s welfare department, also marked the kickoff of 16 days of activities to highlight the problem of battered women.
The campaign includes a protest to be held this week against what is perceived as lenient treatment meted out by courts to men convicted of violence against women.
According to campaign organizers from the Israel Women’s Network, there are an estimated 200,000 battered women in Israel, and segments of the public are surprisingly tolerant toward this.
A survey by Geocartographia has found that about 14 percent of Israeli men believe there are situations in which it is appropriate for men to beat women.
The survey showed 7 percent of women also believe this.
This could be illustrated by the response of a saleswoman at the department store who was asked how she felt about the battered bride spectacle.
She first replied that although the show disrupted the store’s activities, she felt it was important to bring the problem out into the open.
But she also said it is the responsibility of women to behave in such a way so as not to provoke violence from men.
The Women’s Network sponsors said the drama was held at the department store to illustrate the importance of not “buying into” violence by a boyfriend and the promise of marriage.
The show was also meant to dramatize the importance of dispelling the myth that rape is the fault of women and not buying into offensive advertising, they said.